• By Kara Newcastle

Writing Wednesday: Book Recommendations #1: Writing Guides

Writing Wednesday: Book Recommendations #1: Writing Guides

Der Liebesbrief by Adolf Hölzel

Thought I’d make this a quick blog and share some books on writing that I recommend to everybody:

  1. On Writing; A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. One part writing guide, one part autobiography that explains the madness behind the man, Stephen King wrote a great book on writing that is easy to read, engaging, and never talks down to the reader. King offers a lot of good advice on flow and description and includes helpful little tidbits on things like giving your characters names that aren’t tedious to the reader.

  2. The Courage to Write, by Ralph Keyes. If you’ve ever experienced writer’s fear—fear of not being good enough, fear of not succeeding as a writer, fear of being a hack, fear of whatever—and you feel like you’re the only person on the planet to experience this, you’re not, and this book proves it. Ralph Keyes describes a number of famous writers (including E.B. White—I never knew how anxious the poor man was!) who have dealt with the crippling effects of writer’s fear, as well as describing the symptoms of all those fears and how to confront them.

  3. Around the Writer’s Block, by Roseanne Bane. If you’ve never experienced writer’s block (the inability to write due to frustration or loss of inspiration or fear), you’ve either haven’t experienced it yet or are a total liar. For the rest of us who have dealt with and still deal with writer’s block, this book helps break down the reasons behind your stuck-ness and provides tips, exercises, assurances and exercises on how to get around it.

  4. Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon. If you’ve ever worried about being unoriginal or being a hack because you were inspired by somebody else’s idea, this book is here to help you get over it. Austin Kleon does a great job collecting examples of how many great artists (authors, poets, musicians, art artists) got their ideas by “stealing” somebody else’s idea, and he explains not only why is this a good thing, it’s totally natural (and no, I don’t mean plagiarizing, that’s different.)

  5. The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook, by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Naming characters is one of the hardest parts of writing fiction, and harder still if you’re writing about a culture that’s not your own. Sherrilyn Kenyon put together a very nice dictionary of popular names (both worldwide and historically), along with the most common surnames according to each culture. Each first name comes with a translation too, so you can give your characters especially relevant names, if you’re so inclined.

  6. 100,000+ Baby Names, by Bruce Lansky. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s book of names is good (especially since it includes surnames), but Bruce Lansky’s name book is great because it includes THOUSANDS more names, both popular and ultra-rare, all with translations and alternate spellings. One drawback is that unlike Kenyon’s book, this book doesn’t divide the names up according to culture, instead keeping the cultural source with the definition, so you’ll have to hunt around for names for a specific country. On the flipside, it does have a great array of lists, such as popular names by year, state or country, names of famous real people and fictional characters, names of drinks and video game characters, names based on number of syllables, and even a list of celebrities’ weird-but-kinda-cool-but-still-weird names.

Hope you like them, and keep writing!

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